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The B Team provides lessons to help business leaders build a better world

September 30, 2021, 10:45 AM UTC

Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

The B Team is one of the most interesting initiatives out there, melding business leadership with civil society to catalyze the kind of shared prosperity this world so desperately needs.

Yesterday, the nonprofit announced a change of leadership—former Unilever chief Paul Polman is handing over to Ingka Group (i.e. IKEA) boss Jesper Brodin—along with what will hopefully prove to be a very useful set of resources for CEOs: The New Leadership Playbook.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter that accompanies the playbook’s launch, with signatories including everyone from Mastercard’s Ajay Banga and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff to former Irish President Mary Robinson and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus:

“We believe that capitalism has spurred unprecedented innovation and created opportunities previously unforeseen in human history. We also acknowledge that private industry has contributed to the problems we face today—a primary driver, many would argue. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Nothing about the inherent nature of business dictates that irreversible environmental damage, poor labor standards and conformity in leadership are prerequisites to profit. Successful stewardship of our businesses can exist alongside responsible stewardship of our communities and planet. Future generations are counting on it.”

I find those words inspiring, and I hope you do too. Similarly, I urge you to read this excellent Fortune piece by Brodin and B Team CEO Halla Tómasdóttir, also about the New Leadership Playbook’s launch. It describes “a world where global inequality gaps are closed. Where gender balance and equitable representation at all levels of leadership are the norm. Where businesses thrive with accountability and integrity at their core. Where our economy is regenerative, and we’ve delivered a fair and just transition to a low-carbon economy for impacted workers.”

Who wouldn’t want to live there? Keep an eye on this page, where Fortune is collating essays from B Team leaders. That and the New Leadership Playbook itself should prove highly useful as business hopefully reinvents itself to make all this a reality.

Separately—though not entirely—do check out Megan Leonhardt’s piece on a recent report demonstrating how the gender pay gap is smaller, and women’s labor participation is higher, in states that offer benefits such as paid leave and child care. This really shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise, but metrics are always welcome.

More news below.

David Meyer


Funding deal

Congress has a deal, up for a Senate vote today, that will avert a government shutdown at the start of Friday. The stopgap spending bill should pass, but it doesn't include a suspension of the debt ceiling, so an unprecedented and catastrophic default could still occur within the next few weeks. Fortune

Beijing Olympics

The Winter Olympics, which will take place in Beijing in February, won't have foreign spectators. That's mostly in line with the recent Tokyo Olympics, though that event didn't allow domestic spectators either—China will allow those, as long as they meet "specific requirements," the specificity of which remains unspecified. Fortune

Evergrande payment

China Evergrande Group may be trying to make good on its domestic obligations, but it has now missed its second offshore debt payment in a week, leaving global investors with justifiable concerns. A reminder: it isn't a default until 30 days have passed. Meanwhile, Beijing has told Chinese bankers to help local governments prop up the housing market. Reuters

Catastrophe readiness

IBM and the New York Academy of Sciences are spearheading an effort to create an International Science Reserve—a network of scientists and technologists (corporate and otherwise) who stand ready to react when various kinds of catastrophes occur. The initiative is an evolution of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, which has already helped over 100 teams of researchers tackle the pandemic. Fortune


Tech vs fire

Californian firefighters are now using nearly real-time predictions about fire behavior to try getting ahead of wildfires. The predictions are based on advanced modelling systems and data coming from drone-mounted cameras and the like. Drones are also being used to spark controlled burns, which slow or block the advance of bigger fires. Fortune

Electric Rolls

Rolls-Royce (the carmaker, not the aircraft engine outfit) will go all-electric by 2030. Its first fully-electric car, the "Spectre", will be out around Q4 2023. The 2030 target is shared by rivals Bentley and Mercedes-Benz. Reuters

Bezos retort

After Elon Musk criticized his Blue Origin space-rocket venture for trying to "sue your way to the moon," Jeff Bezos has struck back, saying SpaceX also launches lots of lawsuits. Expect a supremely edifying retaliation anytime now. Fortune

Interest rates

With U.S. inflation hitting its highest levels in 13 years, where are the interest-rate rises? As Ben Carlson notes in his latest piece for Fortune: "If this year proves anything it's that the path of interest rates is extremely difficult to predict. But it might be time for investors to prepare for a world in which interest rates stay relatively low for a very long time." Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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